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Caprica: Pilot

I should tell you that I was hesitant about reviewing Caprica because of my disappointment of the final years of Battlestar Galactica. However, I have always been fascinated by history and this seemed like a window into Ron Moore’s vision of what life on the Twelve Colonies was all about.

Immediately, I was concerned that this extended version of the pilot runs at only 1 hour 30 min compared to the Battlestar Galactica miniseries that re-launched the show. There is an overall feel of a very small budget as the virtual nightclub scene is repeatedly used to the detriment of overall pacing. I did not feel any real interest until about 20 minutes into the pilot. Although, once we see some slightly familiar mechanical friends, that’s where the money is well spent. Overall, this does not have the epic nature of BSG, it's far more intimate and confined. This really strikes me when the credits roll and I see how few names are listed.

As the show begins we get a glimpse of what life is like for our two main families, the family Adams and the family Graystone. Joseph Adams, played by Esai Morales, is not the great civil liberties lawyer we heard about in BSG; rather, he works as a lawyer for a crime syndicate made up of other Taurons, including his brother Sam, and run by a Godfather who evokes Lee Strasberg as Hyman Roth more than Brando’s Vito Corleone. I am instantly drawn into this underworld and Tauron culture as names are pronounced with an ethnic ring to them.

Then we have Daniel Graystone, played by Eric Stoltz, as a wealthy computer genius working on a combat robot that will make or break his company. He and his wife, played by Deadwood's Paula Malcomson, are having issues with their daughter Zoe, who is something of a genius like her father. She has hacked a virtual reality system that the children of Caprica use to escape and engage in extreme forms of entertainment. At first it seems this is a sign of the decadent society of Caprica. Yet I would argue that the children of Caprica might not be so lost if they are acting out these fantasies with VR instead of real life.

Tragedy strikes and seems to bring Joseph and Daniel together as they grieve over their loss. This is where the true nature of our story takes place, the temptation that is put before both of these men. For Joseph, he has already faced a life of hardship and has worked through it to become a lawyer. He makes compromises all the time (pay attention to the knowing glance he gives a judge during his court room scene) and is used to living with such consequences. Daniel, on the other hand, has created wealth by using technology to overcome problems with seemingly little compromise. Joseph born as a “dirt-eater” or peasant on Tauron is more “down to Earth,” as it were. Daniel in his clean and pristine house on the lake loaded with technology represents science and man’s lack of humanity. Watch as his wife and daughter argue, he is dispassionate and is removed. Perhaps it is this great personal loss that causes Joseph to stop running from his past and embrace it, to acknowledge to his son that he is not an Adams but is proud to be an Adama. He returns to his earthy roots instead of retreating into an artificial reality as Graystone does.

There are, of course, some other plot lines regarding religious zealots and the crime syndicate. But those pale in comparison to the human drama of what these two fathers are going through and how each of them decides to ultimately deal with it. Without spoiling anything, there is a point where I sat watching Joseph and Daniel talk and I asked myself…how are they even at this point in their relationship….and in this scene lies a moment of genius that I’ve seen from Ron Moore. The question is answered for me. That’s when it strikes me how much potential this show may have. Yet much of it seems stripped away by the revelation at the end as the implications of that moment thoroughly destroy the end of BSG. Also, watching the scenes regarding the “Soldiers of the One” makes me feel like I am viewing someone prepare a sheep for slaughter. I want to look away because I know how it will ultimately end. I don’t want to get attached to the creature for I know its fate.

However, the brilliant performances of Morales and Stoltz will likely pull me into this show once it begins in full swing. Then we’ll see if Ron Moore can deliver something more than a simple retelling of Frankenstein meets "The Monkey’s Paw."


  1. Good review Anthony.

    I enjoyed the pilot and thought it had potential but there were some things that bothered me, you can my review here: http://markgreig.blogspot.com/2009/04/caprica-pilot-review.html

    I'm also facniated by the Tauron mob plot line, the relationship between the Joseph and his brother Sam is something I would like to see explored further.

    Oh and Eli Wallach wasn't Hyman Roth, it was Lee Strasberg but you're right that don did have a Roth-like quality to him.

  2. Thanks for the correction!I must have gotten confused with Godfather III :)
    Great review. Like you, I also felt a bit underwhelmed though completely engaged in the performances of Stoltz & Morales. I mention the credits because that's when it struck me how small the budget must have been. Hopefully the series itself will have an expanded feel to it.

  3. Thanks for the review, Anthony! (And thank you, too, Mark!)

    This sounds good, but not good enough for me to figure out how to procure it for free, yet legally. In other words, the past season of BSG didn't leave me longing for more. Or, for Moore.

  4. Thanks for the review, Anthony. I'd be interested to hear your "spoiler full" thoughts. You mentioned a few parts that spoke to you or got you thinking, but didn't say more for fear of spoilering viewers. But having seen the pilot, I'd be interested in your unfiltered thoughts.

    I didn't think 'Caprica' was outstanding, but it was interesting enough for me to want to see more. I'd give it a few more episodes before passing final judgment. I was certainly fascinated by Adama and Daniel. Adama was particularly interesting because he barely resembled the Joseph Adama of legend. I'd want to see more with his brother, as well.

    Not so sure I cared for most of the stuff with Daniel's daughter, but I kind of liked the insight into the source of some of the Cylon philosophy. Centaurion cylons that is. It even helped explain why they'd want to develop the hybrids (although it seems that happened in every version of the human-Cylon cycle).

    Guess we'll see where this one goes in 2010.


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